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Full text of "A history of Persia"

L            THE GOLDEN AGE OF ISLAM         75
lost sight. All men of learning, whether Moslems, Jews,
Christians, or Pseudo-Sabaeans,1 were welcomed by the
munificent Caliph, and search was diligently made for
the works of the Greek historians, philosophers, and men
of science in order that they might be translated into
It is very interesting to observe how among Moslems
the various sciences sprang up in connexion, more or
less. directly, with the study of the Koran. In the first
place, the conversion of thousands of Persians and other
conquered peoples created an urgent need for grammars
and dictionaries. Then came the study of history, not
only of the Arabs themselves but also of the Persians
and Greeks, in order to explain the allusions to other
peoples that were met with in the Koran and in old
poems, which were collected and critically examined for
the elucidation of rare or archaic, words. But still these
studies did not satisfy, and the search for knowledge
was continually pushed through new and more and
more divergent channels. Thirdly, an acquaintance with
geography became indispensable, not only for the study
of the Koran but also for the very practical purpose of
organizing the rapidly expanding Empire.
Moslem Exploration and Geography?—The story of
Moslem exploration, although mainly commercial, is of
great interest, especially that carried on by sea outside
the limits of the Empire. It was but a continuation of
the old maritime activity of the Arabs and Persians, in
proof of which we learn that Islam was preached at Canton, I
among foreigners consisting mainly of Persians and Arabs, j
between A.D. 618 and 626. In other words, the new
religion had reached China before the Hijra, which fact
points to considerable intercourse between Arabia and
China. The earliest Arab records of the trade with
1   Vidt Browne's interesting account of the Pseudo-Sabaeans of Harran in vol. i.
p. 302 of his op. tit. j also the account given of the Nestorians in Chapter XXXVIII.
of this work,
2  For this section I have consulted The Dawn  of Modern Geography, by Doctor
Raymond Beazley; Lands of the Eastern Caliphate, by Guy le Strange; and the work
of Chau Ju-Kua termed Chu-fan-chi, or " Description of Barbarous Peoples," translated
and edited by F. Hirth and W. W. Rockhill.   The two former books are valuable
standard works, and the latter I have also found most useful.